How can Summer affect mental health?
Summer is meant to be everyone’s favourite season – a time when the sun is shining, our social calendar is chock-a-block and we’re all outdoors, sporting our new summer wardrobe and having fun. Right?
This rose-tinted image of the season is greatly aided by the media, though the reality is often rather different. Just because the sun is shining doesn’t mean all is well. We’ll explore some of the misconceptions about summer that can detract from our enjoyment of this time of year and affect mental health and what you can do so it doesn’t bring you down.
Garden parties, with the smell of BBQ in the air, a soundtrack of chatter, all tinted yellow in the sunshine – the epitome of British Summertime.
This image itself can create unnecessary pressure for people. Being social – mingling with perhaps unfamiliar people and making good conversation – causes anxiety for many.
Or perhaps the onus might be on you to play host for this type of event. Getting your home visitor-ready and delivering a good time for guests, as well as the likely the cost involved, can make it a stressful a situation.
Then, after all this, what if we don’t get the weather? (Highly likely in the UK!)
This stress and expectation can actually mean it’s not as relaxing and enjoyable a time as it’s made out to be.
Expecting things to go a certain way puts pressure on. Try to accept the things we cannot control and make peace with how things are. People probably won’t notice if you didn’t manage to paint that garden fence and the people you talk to are in the same boat as you. If you do away with expectations you will be more likely to go with the flow and enjoy.
The ‘Summer body’
Slim, toned smiling people wearing skimpy clothes, care-free and having a great time – the media image of Summer. But actually the thought of putting on the swimsuit is a source of anxiety for most. We put pressure on ourselves to look like the unrealistic standard, which is unattainable for all but a small percentage of us. Why do we do this to ourselves?
The pursuit of the elusive ‘summer body’ to look a certain way in summer can be detrimental to mental health. The fact is you are always ‘beach ready’ because there is no such thing. Everyone, irrespective of size, body shape or appearance, is more than worthy to don a bathing suit and enjoy summer. This comes down to making peace with the way your body looks rather than fighting it.
A helpful way GQ magazine suggests to improve your body image is making your focus health not size.
For teachers and those in education, summer is an extended period away from the day-to-day routine. This is usually something we countdown to, but when it arrives this lack of routine can be disorienting. What we normally build our day around is nowhere to be seen and this can lead to unhealthy habits creeping in.
Sleeping pattern can get largely disrupted and we mightn’t know what to do with the extra time; both of which can lead to feeling low. You can avoid this by maintaining a good sleep routine and having activities to fill your day. Projects are a good way to do this, or even volunteering.
Conversely, you might pine for the carefree days when the summer never seemed to end. Now, your compromise may be just a week off crammed into a busy work schedule. The grass can appear greener, however think about what it is you would truly crave from the time off and make the time to do the things you remember so fondly. Have day out, take an afternoon to lie in the sunshine, eat your lunch al fresco. If you enjoy and value these things they are important, so make time for them.
Maybe Summer just isn’t your season. It can be hard when is seems like you’re supposed to be having a great time and you just aren’t. Keep your expectations realistic – don’t expect everything to be perfect, you will continually disappoint yourself. So Summer doesn’t affect your mental health, accept things as they are and make the best of it to get the most enjoyment out of the season
Perhaps you struggle to gain this perspective and, if so, therapy can help. Book your free consultation here.